As many fitness “masters” will often tell you, the actual working out is only one part of the whole story. And that’s completely true! When it comes to fitness and health, more often than not, our performance can depend entirely on what we choose to fuel our bodies with. (Spoiler: it has to be healthy!)
With most sports and weight training workouts you can probably get away with a generally balanced diet, but if you’re opting for a more specialized exercise, one like running, it is worth taking a look at your current diet and making adjustments as necessary to make sure you’re getting the absolute most out of your workouts.
So here are 15 foods you should most definitely add to your diet if you’re a runner!
Packed with potassium, this is a great healthy snack for long-distance runs or in hot temperatures when you are likely to sweat a lot and as a result, lose a lot of your bodily minerals. Potassium compensates for this loss and helps lowers your blood pressure at the same time. Not only that but it also plays an essential role in muscle function, and deficiencies in potassium can lead to cramping and discomfort – which is definitely not something you want to experience midrun that’s for sure.
Beets are loaded with nutrients and not so loaded in calories and that is what makes them the perfect food to consume when you want to control your hunger and also incorporate in those fibres. They’re also high in something known as dietary nitrates, which are basically just compounds that help your body produce nitric oxide which is essential for maintaining healthy blood vessels. Studies have shown that dietary nitrates from beets and other nitrate-rich vegetables, such as spinach and arugula, can increase running performance and delay running fatigue.
Chicken is a great lean, healthy and highly versatile protein that is great for helping you gain muscle. And plus it is super affordable too! You can mix this meat with just about anything and everything. Whether you wanna make chicken pasta or grill your chicken with a side of vegetables, mix and match with whatever mood you’re feeling in, you can be assured that it will be nothing but beneficial for your health and fitness journey.
4. Whole Grain Pasta
Whole grain pasta is high in carbohydrates that will fill up our glycogen stores. With our glycogen stores filled, this makes sure that we have enough energy to get us through the entirety of our run. The reason it is important to try and opt for whole-grain alternatives when it comes to our carbs is that not only do they keep you full for longer but they also contain additional vitamin B and help build muscle which ultimately improves your endurance and performance.
Almonds have tons of healthy benefits that runners cant take advantage of thanks to their abundance in vitamin E, magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium. Even just one serving can help reduce muscle damage, strengthen your bones, and boost energy to power through a run. It is important to eat some protein (as well as carbs) after a run, as protein-rich foods help to rebuild protein that has been broken down during exercise and helps with post-run muscle recovery.
Almonds also help keep your blood sugar levels on the low side when you combine them with foods that are high in sugar.
Many studies have shown that a cup of coffee can give your high-intensity interval training a well-needed boost. Caffeine will not only help you run faster and therefore cover longer distances but the run will overall seem much easier and enjoyable as well.
7. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter minus the additives like sugar/salt/oil etc. is a good source of vitamin E, which is a super effective antioxidant in terms of vitamins. Peanuts are high in fat, consisting of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids which can help lower the cholesterol levels in your blood. These fats are also important when it comes to strengthening your immune system and speeding up your post-run recovery. Peanut butter also contains a decent amount of protein and as we know proteins are essential for muscle growth which is something all runners should aim for.
Berries are packed with anthocyanin – which ultimately helps runners cope with the after-effects of a run and boost the recovery period. They are also packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre, and disease-fighting antioxidants.
Oats have loads of healthy carbs and are high in fibres. They also have a low glycemic index so basically, they cause your blood sugar level to rise slowly, provide you with sufficient energy over a longer period of time. Oh, and they help you feel full for longer!
Eggs are a super great source of protein and they also help you maintain a lean body weight, help fight inflammation and prompt bone strength (due to their high levels of protein, choline and vitamin D). Proteins are also a must to add into your diet to ensure you’re building muscle and they will most definitely aid in speeding up that recovery process by helping to repair your body after the effects of an intense workout.
This fish is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which is essential to improved heart, lung and joint health. The high level of vitamin D found in wild salmon may also play a role in increasing muscular strength. Plus, it has shown potential to boost your immune system!
Potatoes are a goldmine source of potassium which we have already established should be essential in every runner’s diet. 1 large sweet potato can make up for your total daily requirement of vitamin A – an antioxidant that improves your eyesight strengthens your bone tissue and boosts your immune system. Sweet!
Eating chocolate before a run can increase your blood sugar levels for a more sustained amount of time and can also help lower your stress levels and allow you to relax to have a more enjoyable run.If you’re more of a dark chocolate person, you’re in luck! Dark chocolate may lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and the secondary metabolites can help reduce inflammation.
Yoghurt has the perfect mix of both carbohydrates and proteins. If you eat it right after a run, it can play a role in speeding up your recovery time and protecting your muscles. The calcium contained within yoghurt is also a great way to strengthen your bones. Yoghurt also contains a little something called live lactic acid bacteria (probiotics). These stimulate your gut flora and thus boost your immune system too!
Broccoli is a goldmine for vitamin C which is why it is such an essential ingredient in the diets of runners. Vitamin C is fantastic for not only reducing but also preventing the risk of muscle soreness which not only makes the workout easier but helps the recovery period fly by faster. Broccoli is also a good source of calcium, folic acid and vitamin K and all of those are essential for helping strengthen our bones.
Read our article on 17 running benefits that will make you want to run forever! (trust me, they will)